How to Get Rid Of Ants in Car (Simple Steps)

Have you sighted a streak of ants crawling around in your car? Well, rest assured that you are not the only one wanting to get rid of ants in the car and avoid their bites.

Even though you may normally come across ants in your house devouring food crumbs or colonizing your back yard, but when ants invade your car they can be a hazardous distraction.

If you are tired of all the failed attempts to get rid of ants in your car, read our detailed guide to learn:

  • Why ants get in your car
  • How to identify different kinds of ants
  • What techniques to apply to get rid of ants in the car

Ants are not too picky when it comes to choosing a place to nest. They’ll feel at home anywhere as long as it is moist, warm and has a food supply nearby – even if it’s your car! And when this happens, you should be prepared to be bugged and have damaged wires, switches or cables in your dashboard.

How to get rid of ants in car

Why Ants Invade Your Car

To be able to effectively get rid of ants in the car, it is important to understand why they infested there in the first place. Cars are an uncommon place for ants to nest, but when they do it is due to either one of the following reasons:

  • Your car was parked near an ant colony for a long time. Ant colonies are normally near a kitchen or trash cans, so if your garage is nearby, this is probably why they got into your car.
  • You have water leaking in or near your car. Many ants like to nest near water sources just like they do near food sources.
  • Your car has the odor of stale or sweet-smelling food. If ants detect this smell they will quickly invade the car.

Whatever the reason, it all comes down to food. But if you have found ants in your car, will they stay there forever? Ants usually have two main motives when taking over any place.

Accidental Infestation

It is possible that some ants accidentally stumbled across your car in search of food. Even if you threw away the food cans or cleaned all the leftovers in your car, the smell of food probably stayed for some time and attracted some ants meanwhile. If you have found ants in the car during this phase, there’s no need to worry. Their stay is only temporary and will leave when they find no food.

Related: How to Get Rid of Ants Naturally Outside??

Permanent Infestation

It is hard to get rid of ants in the car when they decide to inhabit your car permanently. This happens when ants have evidence of food sources being present in the car. They may either start transferring the food to their colonies or just simply colonize your car instead. Anything ranging from food wrappers to sticky soda residue can attract ants in the car. Some experts have suggested that even the insulation of wires is enough to attract ants because it emits a slight scent of vanilla when it’s warm. The trick is to instantly take measures to get rid of ants in the car as soon as you see ants crowding.

Identify the Type of Ants in Your Car

You may feel that it is useless to put time and effort in the identification of ants. But did you know that out of thousands of ant species, only a few species are likely to nest in cars? Even the slightest knowledge of ant species can spare you plenty of time when deciding which technique to use to get rid of ants in the car.

Carpenter Ants

Appearing in shades of red and black, a carpenter ant is a quarter to half an inch in size. These can mostly be found near trees and tend to eat insects and anything with a sweet taste. Carpenter ants are usually active at night and if you disturb them they emit a strong smell to warn other ants. So you will have to devise a plan that could trap all carpenter ants at once.

Pharaoh Ants

These light-colored ants can appear to be anywhere between yellow to light brown. Pharaoh ants are smaller in size – almost 1/16 inches long! They feed on insects, sweets, fats, and proteins, but prefer to nest near a water source. Their size allows for fast reproduction and enables them can quickly change locations if they get too crowded or disturbed.

Thief Ants

Extremely small in size, thief ants love greasy foods and proteins. These light brown ants live near other ant nests so that they can easily steal food.

Pavement Ants

These dark-colored ants are aggressive to other ants. They can be found nesting near lawns or under stones or wood. Pavement ants feed on both greasy and sweet food.

5 simple Ways of Dealing with Ants in the Car

Now that you know why and what kind of ants infested your car, choose one or a combination of the following ways to get rid of ants in the car for good.

1. Change Parking Locations

This is the first thing to do when you spot ants in your car. If your parking spot is near trees or bushes, it is likely to make it convenient for ants such as carpenter ants to check out for food.

We suggest that you keep changing your car’s parking location now and then to discourage ants from nesting. And don’t forget to keep your windows closed at all times to restrict access.

2. Thoroughly Clean the Car

The easiest way to get rid of ants in the car is by thoroughly cleaning it. A spotless and properly vacuumed car will not only be free of any attractive food source for the ants but will also force them to move away. To ensure that your car is clean you should:

  • Remove any food wrappers, packaging or leftover food items in your car.
  • Vacuum the crevices of your car seats
  • Wash out any surface and car floor mats
  • Dust off all the interior edges and surface of the car
  • Clean all the food stains on seats, dashboard or center console using a chemical cleaner
  • Slide the seats backward to access the floor underneath

Related: Do Ants Eat Bed Bugs?

3. Wash the Car Exterior

If parking at a different spot doesn’t help, chances are that the ants had already set up a trail to follow. All kinds of ants leave behind traces of pheromones that help them to direct other ants toward the food source. So your car will still be accessible to these ants if it is not too much out of the smelling range of ant colonies.

Washing the exterior body of your car will eliminate these pheromones and clean out any tracks that the ants could use to trace back in the car. This technique will help you to get rid of ants in the car if you:

  • Properly wash the tires. To deter ants from climbing the tires, use a certified chemical to clean the wheels of your car.
  • Polish the undercarriage. Hire a professional to polish the undercarriage of your car using a pest repellent to keep the ants away in the future as well.
  • Clean under the hood. Ants usually find interesting places to get into the car. Cleaning the area around the engine of the car will kill any ants that are hiding there.


4. Try Natural & DIY Remedies

Non-toxic remedies can be an efficient way of getting rid of ants in the car. These are ideal to opt for if you have children who frequently travel in your car or play around it. Some of the best options to choose from are:

  • Cayenne Pepper. Spread this pepper around the tires of your car and even inside it. Its deterrent properties will keep the ants away.
  • Lemon extract. Squeeze lemons in a bottle of water and then spray the mixture in areas where there are colonies of ants. Because ants hate the smell of lemon, they will soon vacate the car.
  • Chalk. Draw lines around your car and its tires with chalk. It is made up of calcium carbonate which acts as an ant repellent.
  • Table salt. Boil water and add some salt in it. Then spray this mixture over infested areas.
  • Peppermint. Spray or apply diluted peppermint oil in infested areas. It will drive the ants away and leave a pleasant smell behind.
  • Clove Essential Oil. This fragrant oil acts as a great insecticide and is safe use.
  • Diatomaceous earth. Dust the earth along the entry points to get rid of ants in the car.

5. Set Up Ant Traps

If cleaning is not keeping the ants away and you don’t have time to carry out the home remedies, you should probably resort to ant traps.

If the infestation is really bad and you want to get rid of ants in the car immediately, you will need toxic traps or pesticides to eliminate the problem. The pesticides are easy to use and can be placed near the entry points of ants or on their trail.

Ant traps will trap any ants in your car by using baits to attract them and since these baits are poisonous, the ants will be killed in the process. Some benefits of using ant traps instead of pesticides are:

  • They don’t contaminate the inside of your car.
  • They are odorless so you will not experience any unpleasant smells.
  • They come in different forms including granules, liquid, and gels.
  • If one ant eats the bait, it carries the poison back to its colony where it destroys the ant population

Related: What Do Sugar Ants Look Like?

Our Advice!

Getting rid of ants in the car can be a long and tiresome process but don’t lose hope. These tricks and techniques will make sure that not a single ant stays back to cause more frustration.

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